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Assessing the Case for Mandatory Maintenance Plans for Heritage Buildings

Info: 7530 words (30 pages) Dissertation
Published: 9th Dec 2019

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Tagged: ArchitectureEnvironmental Studies

Staving Off Decay.

Assessing the Case for Mandatory Maintenance Plans for Heritage Buildings

Ethics Statement

In the course of this research, due consideration has been given to ensure the minimisation or removal of all potential ethical issues. Participation in this research study required voluntary informed consent, confidentially has been respected where requested, and all data used is by kind and express permission of the participants. Personal and recorded data is held in accordance with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998. The study involves no procedures likely to expose the participants to physical or psychological harm or distress. All research is independent and impartial.

Executive Summary



Title page


Ethics Statement

Executive Summary

List of Figures

List of Tables

List of Abbreviations

1.0 Introduction

3.0 Literature Review

3.1 Statutory and Guidance Context of Maintenance

3.2 Defining Maintenance

3.3 Maintenance Planning in the Care of Buildings

3.4 Summary of Findings

4.0 Research Design and Method

4.1 Design

4.2 Sample

4.3 Methodology

5.0 Findings

5.1 Data

5.2 Analysis

6.0 Conclusions

7.0 Limitations and Future Scope




List of Figures

Fig. 1.   Bonsers Company Structure ………………………………………………11

Fig. 2.   Competitors Operating in Bonsers Geographical Area…………………13

Fig. 3.   GDP Quarterly Compound Growth by Industry………………….………19

List of Tables

Table. 1.   Breakdown of Services Provided by Bonsers………..……………..…8

Table. 2.   SWOT Analysis for Bonsers……………………………………………14

Table. 3.   PESTLE Analysis for Bonsers………………………………….………17

Table. 4.   Personal Development Plan ………………………..………………… 26

List of Abbreviations

ICOMOS International Council on Monuments and Sites

IHBC  Institute for Historic Building Conservation

LA  Local Authority

MoH  Maintain our Heritage

NPPF  National Planning Policy Framework

PPG  Planning Policy Guidance

PPM  Planned Preventative Maintenance

RICS  The Royal Institution of Charted Surveyors

SPAB  Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings

R&M  Repair and Maintenance

1.0 Introduction

‘…stave off decay by daily care…’

William Morris, 1877

The historic built environment plays an important part in defining the cultural heritage of nations (Francis et.al, 2011, p. 902). National and international conservation philosophy, and government policy, highlights the importance of preserving the cultural and historic significance of heritage sites (NPPF, 2012, ICOMOS, 2013). A key element of this is in the retention of original fabric (SPAB, 2017, Historic England, 2017, ICOMOS, 2013).

Maintenance plays an essential role in facilitating retention of historic fabric, and by implication the preservation of significance. This is long established. John Ruskin (2000) identified the tendency to ‘neglect buildings first, and restore them afterwards’, over 150 years ago, and highlighted the role that maintenance plays in preventing the need for restoration. William Morris, in his 1877 manifesto for the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB, 2017), established preservation of original fabric, through minimal intervention, as the central tenet of conservation philosophy, which survives to this day.

This recognition has continued. Historic England’s publication for owners of historic buildings makes clear that ‘…the conservation of heritage assets is based on appropriate routine management and maintenance.’ (Historic England, 2017). British Standard 7913:2013, states that ‘systematic care based on good maintenance and housekeeping is both cost effective and fundamental to good conservation.’ Previous Government policy has also clearly identified the importance of maintenance, as in Planning Policy Guidance Note 15 (PPG 15), which states that ‘regular maintenance and repair are key to the preservation of historic buildings…’ Additionally, a number of studies have established the benefits of carrying out proactive maintenance, in the preservation of original fabric (Worthing and Bond, 2008 and MoH, 2004), and by implication the preservation of significance and value; in cost management and savings (English Heritage 2001, Francis et.al. 2011, and MoH, 2004); and in terms of sustainability (Kindred, 2004). Effective and adequate maintenance of heritage buildings is considered essential for the preservation of these irreplaceable resources (Francis et.al, 2011, p. 902).

However, despite this seeming acceptance of maintenance as a fundamental part of caring for historic buildings, failure to undertake maintenance continues to be a significant contributor to the deterioration of these sites in the UK (St Edmundsbury B.C, 2017, Forster and Kayan, 2009, MoH 2004). Regardless of guidelines, and philosophical principles, there has been a lack of support, encouragement and enforcement from statutory bodies for the implementation of both preventative and reactive maintenance across all parts of the heritage sector (MoH, 2004, Francis et.al. 2011). Additionally, recent changes in Government policy have taken a step backwards, with the National Planning Policy Framework, implemented in 2012, removing the references to maintenance within the guidance on preserving the historic environment.

This counter-productive approach, of favouring higher cost, increased intervention, repair and restoration, over lower value and smaller impact proactive maintenance, raises questions regarding the cost effective and sustainable conservation of historic sites, and how this should be ensured. This study seeks to determine whether a system of mandatory maintenance plans for historic buildings, is a necessary step in changing attitudes to preventative maintenance, and ensuring the survival of UK heritage assets.

2.0 Research Aim and Objectives

2.1  Aim

To investigate if there is a case for the introduction of mandatory maintenance plans for heritage buildings

2.2 Objectives

  • To investigate the importance of maintenance in the conservation of historic buildings.
  • To establish the contribution of poor maintenance to the deterioration of sites, loss of original fabric, and increased restoration costs.
  • To determine if current policy, legislation and guidance is effective in supporting and encouraging the implementation of maintenance strategies at individual site level.
  • To evaluate whether mandatory maintenance plans are the appropriate strategy to achieve this.
  • To explore how mandatory maintenance plans could be enforced.


3.0 Literature Review


3.1 Policy and Philosophy: The Context for Maintenance

Significance is a principle focus of both UK and international conservation philosophy, and forms the basis for the development of public policy and non-statutory guidance. The NPPF (2012, annex 2) defines significance as;

‘The value of a heritage asset to this and future generations because of its heritage interest. That interest may be archaeological, architectural, artistic or historic. Significance derives not only from [its] physical presence, but also from its setting.’

Organisations concerned with the conservation of heritage assets within the UK, advise that the significance of assets may be found within their fabric, architecture and structure (RICS, 2009, p.4, ICOMOS, 2013, SPAB, 2017), as well as the setting (IHBC, 2017). As such, retention of historic fabric is a central focus in the conservation of the historic built environment. Maintenance is considered to be key to ensuring this (Dann, 2000, Dann and Wood, 2004, Hills and Worthing, 2006, Francis et.al, 2011). According to BS 7913:2013 (p. 24), ‘good maintenance is cost effective…’ and undertaking of regular, structured maintenance can prevent deterioration and decay of original fabric, and contribute to the avoidance of costly ‘major interventions’ further down the line.

Historically, policy and guidance has emphasised the importance of preventative maintenance as an appropriate method of preserving original fabric, and by implication, significance of historic buildings (Historic England, 2017, SPAB, 2017, IHBC, 2017, RICS, 2009, Historic England, 2008, Hills and Worthing, 2006, p. 204, MoH, 2004). However, there is no specific legal duty of care to maintain listed buildings, imposed on owners.

The University of the West of England (Module 1, 2003), produced an in-depth evaluation of the statutory context for maintenance of historic buildings as part of the Maintain our Heritage project. The primary legislation which deals with activities related to listed buildings, is the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 (UWE, Module 2, 2003, p. 13). No specific duty of care is imposed to maintain listed buildings, however, there are a number of provisions for enforcement, if lack of maintenance is causing buildings to fall into disrepair. Sections 38, 48, and 54 empower local authorities (LA’s) to issue a range of enforcement notices, and in some instances, to undertake works and recover costs from the owner. They also provide LA’s with the power to compulsory purchase buildings if the owner is not ensuring preservation. The Town and Country Planning Act 1990, has similar provisions. While the Act makes no specific reference to maintenance, it does allow for LA’s to force landowners to undertake remedial works to land, and by extension the buildings on it, ‘if amenity is adversely effected by the condition of the land…’ Within this Act, LA’s have the provision to enforce maintenance and repairs, or to enter the land to undertake works, and recover costs from owners (p. 14).

UWE raise a number of points regarding the effectiveness of these Acts. Firstly, they are re-active, not pro-active, in that LA’s only have recourse for action for lack of maintenance when the neglect has reached a point at which the building is at risk (p. 14). At this point, original fabric is likely to have been lost, jeopardising the significance of the asset. There is also ambiguity in definitions within the Act, which potentially contributes to variations in application of powers between and within LA’s. They also suggest that these powers are ‘cumbersome’ and ‘expensive’ for LA’s to administer, potentially discouraging them from taking action. Additionally, they posit that this section of planning departments is often under resourced (p.13, and Earl, 1996, p. 47), and suggest that enforcement action is relatively uncommon.

Looking at policy, Planning Policy Guidance 15: Planning and the Historic Environment, Section 7 (1994) stated that ‘regular maintenance and repair are key to the preservation of historic buildings… and routine maintenance can prevent much more expensive work becoming necessary at a later date.’ It goes further to state that the fabric of historic buildings can be preserved indefinitely, provided that ‘timely maintenance, and occasional repairs…are regularly undertaken.’ However, this has been superseded by NPPF 12, which has removed all references to maintenance, further reducing the availability of clear and structured guidance on maintenance (Dann and Cantell, 2007, Forster and Kayan, 2009, p. 218).

Additionally, UWE (2003) and Dann et al (2000) identify a lack of availability of grant funding for maintenance on historic buildings, while funding is available for repairs and restoration. There are also additional VAT burdens for maintenance works, in contrast with zero rated approved alterations and demolition. These may well be influencing factors in the decision by custodians of listed buildings to undertake maintenance (Dann and Cantell, 2005).

What is clear from these studies, is that, in the statutory context, there is little incentive or encouragement to undertake maintenance, for custodians of listed buildings. The existing statutory framework does not allow for adequate enforcement of maintenance until it’s too late and historic fabric has been lost. This is clearly not in line with the principle of retaining original fabric as an essential element of the significance and value of sites, which is key in policy and legislation as well as in conservation philosophy on an international scale. Additionally, guidance on maintenance practice is not consistent across all sources, creating confusion and lack of clarity for all involved within the sector.

3.2 Defining Maintenance

Understanding the policy context of maintenance raises question over where maintenance ends, and repair, or restoration, begins. This is complicated by variations in definition of these terms within conservation, and wider building and facilities management.

According to BS 7913:2013 (p. 23) maintenance is defined as ‘the continuous care of a historic building, and is the most common and important activity in their conservation and reservation.’ In contrast, the objective of repair is ‘to bring a historic building into good condition, while retaining its significance’.  Historic England (English Heritage, 2008, p. 72) go further in their definition, by drawing a clear distinction between repair, maintenance and restoration;

[repair is] work beyond the scope of maintenance, to remedy defects caused by decay, damage or use, including minor adaptation to achieve a sustainable outcome, but not involving restoration or alteration.’


Maintenance is defined as ‘routine work necessary to keep the fabric of a place in good order.’ (English Heritage, 2008, p. 71). An important distinction is that the actions of repair will lead to a change to, or loss of, original fabric. Conservation philosophy dictates that this should be prevented where possible, and where repairs do take place, they should be limited and ‘honest’ (SPAB, 2017, RICS, 2009, ICOMOS, 2013). Preventative maintenance is considered to be the least destructive conservation intervention (Hills and Worthing, 2006, p. 204, Dann, 2000), and therefore most suitable for retention of original fabric.

There is, however, some variation in definition of maintenance as a whole. BS EN 15341:2007 (p. 5), describes the process of undertaking maintenance as the active use of resources to ‘retain an item, or restore it to a state in which it can perform its required function.’ It is important to note that this definition relates to maintenance generally, not specifically within the historic built environment. Within the conservation sector, the term ‘restore’ or ‘restoration’ is used differently. Restoration is identified as a separate process to conservation, and is considered as being ‘at the opposite end of the spectrum to sustainable conservation’, (Francis et.al, 2011). Specifically, restoration is defined as the process of returning a place to a known and confirmed earlier state, either ‘on the basis of compelling evidence, without conjecture’ (English Heritage, 2008, P. 72), or ‘by removing accretions or by reassembling existing elements without the introduction of new material’ (ICOMOS, 2013).

Understanding the distinctions between maintenance, repair, and restoration, within the context of historic building conservation is important in ensuring appropriate care. Traditional conservation philosophy, and related guidance, specifically excludes the suitability of restoration as a method of preservation (SPAB, 2017).  While other sources fall short of this hard-line rejection of restoration, great emphasis is placed on the importance of retaining original fabric and implementing a ‘minimal intervention’ approach (RICS, 2009, p.4, ICOMOS, 2013, COTAC, 2017). The reason for this, is to preserve or retain the historic or cultural significance, or value, which may be found within the fabric, structure, or architecture of a heritage asset (RICS, 2009, p.4, Hills and Worthing, 2006, p. 204). As previously discussed, this is a fundamental aim in both UK and international conservation philosophy, guidance and policy (ICOMOS, 2013, NPPF, 2012).

This interchangeability in the definitions of repair, restoration and maintenance, therefore, has the potential to have a negative impact on the care of historic buildings. This is of particular concern when care of historic buildings is being undertaken by those with a non-conservation background. Edwards (2015, P. 45) suggests that guidance on conservation principles and practice is not readily available to those who are not employed within the sector. While they may be aware of their statutory duty, as suggested by Hills and Worthing (2006, p. 203), owners may not be adequately supported by guidance to enable them to employ suitable approaches to the care of heritage assets, such as preventative maintenance. Where guidance is provided, depending on source, it may not always be correct or appropriate (Dann and Cantell, 2005). Forster and Kayan (2009, p. 217) suggest this may negatively affect consumer confidence in the system, thereby discouraging interaction with conservation and maintenance services.

3.3 Maintenance Planning in the Care of Buildings

The benefits of maintenance, over repair and restoration, in the preservation and retention of original fabric and significance, are clearly established in the previously reviewed literature and statutory provision. There are also a range of other benefits associated with undertaking planned maintenance, including; retaining aesthetics and value (Dann and Cantell, 2007, p. 185); reduction of cost and disruption of larger scale repairs caused by failure further down the line (MoH, 2004); enhancement of valuable cultural assets; opportunity for occupancy or re-use; development and construction sustainability (Dann and Cantell, 2007, p. 185); and improved building performance (Francis et.al, 2011, p. 902).

According to Maintain our heritage (2004, p. 3) ‘much of the need for capital expenditure on the historic environments is the result of poor maintenance’. Forster and Kayan (2009, p. 211) suggest that this statement highlights the need for planned, rather than reactive, maintenance, as a more cost effective measure. Such programmes of planned, cyclical maintenance can facilitate better financial control in the management of buildings (Dann and Wood, 2004, p. 44). Forster and Kayan’s review of contemporary literature of maintenance for historic buildings, strongly supports this view, suggesting that ‘maintenance is critical to the survival… of any building’ (2009, p. 210). Additionally, Francis et.al (2011) study of eighty heritage buildings, concluded that building conservation, maintenance, and asset management are extensively interrelated and each needs to be effectively engaged to ensure the care of historic assets.

BS 7913:2013 (p. 28) suggests implementing a planned and budgeted maintenance strategy for the care of historic buildings. It further suggests that this would most effectively be delivered as a maintenance plan. This should include a thorough understanding of the history and significance of the building, in its context. Frequency of inspections, surveys, recording and monitoring should be assessed and planned, along with routine maintenance activities. Preventative action should be specified, over reactive repair, and repair should be specified over replacement. Dann and Cantell (2007, p. 186) support this, stating that ‘maintenance of historic buildings is most beneficial when it is preventative’, as this reduces the need for repairs, and subsequent loss of original fabric. Historic England guidance also encourages planned maintenance, as well as regular condition surveys (2017, p. 20). Kerr (2000), Miele (2005) and Gard’ner (2007), support this view, and suggest regular condition surveys should be implemented, to identify defects early enough to prevent the necessity for larger interventions. Dann et al (2007), suggest that many organisations fall short in implementing systematic and integrated maintenance strategy, particularly that which is focused around identification and protection of cultural and historic significance (p. 97). There is some question over whether implementing such a strategy could lead to ‘box-ticking’ in which the reports are produced but no further action is taken (Forster and Kayan, 2009, p. 214). This raises questions as to the enforcement of such strategy at a statutory level, and the best methods to achieve this.

It is important to note that here, that there are some weaknesses in the current body of research in this area. While much emphasis is placed on preventative, or planned maintenance, this appears to be more anecdotal, or opinion based, and is not supported by clear empirical evidence. This may be in part due to the nature of the research. Maintain our Heritage (2004) in particular, while leading a number of in-depth and wide ranging studies in a number of areas related to maintenance of historic buildings, are primarily an interest group comprised of heritage and conservation experts. This has arguably resulted in experience based research and writing. This does not reduce the validity of the input, but impartiality and generalisability should be considered when analysing the findings. This should also be considered when reviewing MoH associated research by Dann, Cantell, Wood, Hills and Worthing. The empirical research in this area also has limitations. Francis et al (2011, 2010) in their study of eighty historic buildings, gathered data on maintenance planning, application, budgeting and backlog, as key indicators of standard of care. However, this data is not analysed or presented separately, so it is difficult to identify the contribution of maintenance from their findings.

Looking at implementation of maintenance in the care of historic buildings, despite well documented, in terms of both statutory and non-statutory guidance and conservation philosophy, a large body of research suggests that this is not regularly adopted by custodians of these assets (Dann et.al. 1999, Kindred, 2004, Dann and Wood, 2004, Dann and Cantell, 2005, Forster and Kayan, 2009, Francis et.al. 2011). According to Maintain our Heritage, who undertook a number of large scale investigative studies into maintenance care of historic buildings, maintenance is ‘…sporadic, not systematic, a low, not a high priority and in many cases it did not happen at all’ (2004, p. 3). It is suggested that this has contributed to a £50m backlog of repairs to the historic built environment (Dann, 2000, p. 1). Forster and Kayan’s (2009, p. 210) critical review of the contemporary literature on maintenance for historic buildings concluded that the organisational and financing issues around maintenance, create barriers to its implementation. They go further to suggest that is this situation continues, culturally significant buildings are at risk of being lost (p. 210).

There are a number of reasons why this might be the case. Firstly, as discussed, at statutory level no duty of care to maintain is imposed on owners of historic buildings. This arguably contributes to the ‘if it’s not broke, why fix it?’ attitude observed among owners and custodians (Dann, 2004), who are more likely to undertake maintenance when duty of care is imposed upon them (UWE 2003). Maintenance policy is fragmented, with no clear framework or leadership (Dann and Cantell, 2007, Forster and Kayan, 2009, p. 213), and guidance varies according to source (MoH, 2004, p.9). There are no central guidelines or stipulations for the implementation of maintenance.

Compounding this, is the limited use of enforcement action by LA’s (UWE, 2003). This may be magnified as austerity continues to reduce budgets (Aldridge, 2017), and protection of listed buildings may not be seen as a priority against increased demand for services such as social care, housing and policing.

Lack of clear policy and central guidance also complicates understanding of maintenance on a practical level. Differences between interpretations of maintenance, and confusion over the scope and boundaries of repair, maintenance and restoration, as previously discussed, may be a contributing factor to the variation in approaches taken in the care of historic buildings across organisations (Francis et al, 2011), and between owner types (Hills and Worthing, 2006, Dann et al, 2006, Francis et al, 2011) as discussed below. In particular, this may go some way to explaining why preventative maintenance is not carried out, or identified as a priority. Both Dann (2004) and Allan (1999) suggested that there appears to be a lack of knowledge of the benefits of maintenance among custodians of listed buildings. Edwards (2015, P. 45), suggests that, while building conservation experts may have a good understanding of how historic building conservation should be undertaken, in reference to the retention of significance and value, this may not be the case for non-experts, such as listed or heritage building owner occupiers, and general maintenance or construction contractors. This is particularly important considering Hills and Worthing’s (2009, p. 212) study, which suggested that, while owners sought advice from Local Authorities on matters regarding statutory obligations, many turned to general builders for maintenance and repair advice. If neither owners, nor general contractors are aware of the importance of retaining original fabric, significance is arguably at risk. Furthermore, Dann and Cantell (2007) suggest that information available to the public is not well developed or readily available for those who require it. Hills and Worthing’s (2004) survey of 270 listed building owners, supports this, identifying poor clarity on where to seek advice on maintenance and repair, as a key barrier to the implementation of maintenance (p. 208).

It is suggested that both private and public sectors see preventative maintenance as a burden on limited financial resources (Francis et.al, 2011, p. 903). There is evidence of limited forward thinking (Forster and Kayan, 2009, p. 214), focusing on the upfront costs, rather than the future potential benefits of investment (MoH, 2004). Custodians often favour repair and replacement over maintenance, through lack of knowledge or understanding (Forster and Kayan, 2009, p. 214), putting historic fabric and significance at risk. Though it is important to note here, that Hills and Worthing (2006, p. 207) found that owner occupiers were incentivised to carry out maintenance for fear of future repair bills, and damage from disrepair. Follow up research suggested that this was primarily due to these buildings being homes, rather than any drive to preserve original fabric, or significance. Financial motivations vary for organisations, with some evidence suggesting that maintenance budgets are often limited, not ring fenced (Dann et al, 2006, p. 100), and prone to reallocation in times of financial constraint (Francis et al, 2010, Francis et al, 2011). This arguably amplifies the need for a single strategy for maintenance for all historic sites, regardless of ownership. Increased tax burdens and limited availability of grant aid for maintenance (UWE, 2003, Dann and Cantell, 2005) also act as disincentives to maintain (Dann et al, 2000, Forster and Kayan, 2009, p. 216).

Crucially, several studies and reviews suggest that not enough research has been undertaken into establishing the true benefits of implementing planned maintenance strategies, and the costs of not doing so. Worthing et al. (2002, p. 292), suggest that there is limited data on systematic maintenance of the historic built environment, while Dann and Cantell, (2005, p. 42) found that there is little literature available on the motivations of the custodians of historic buildings towards maintenance. Without detailed research into this area, it is difficult to identify strategies for encouraging maintenance planning for the care of historic sites. Maintain our Heritage (2004) produced the largest scale research project in this area to date, concluding that centralised UK wide guidance at policy level is key to ensuring maintenance is implemented within the care of historic buildings. They highlight the need for a statutory duty of care to be imposed, or the introduction of a minimum maintenance standard enforceable by local authorities. It is suggested that this should be supported through financial incentives to encourage, or support, owners in implementing maintenance strategies. They conclude that further research is required to ascertain the best approach to facilitate this.

3.4 Summary


In summary, the current literature clearly establishes the importance of undertaking maintenance in the care of historic buildings. It is also a long established principle of conservation philosophy. However, evidence suggests that this is not being consistently and strategically implemented across all sites. A number of reasons are highlighted for this. Firstly, there is no central statutory framework for guiding, or enforcing, maintenance practice. Guidance is fragmented, and varies according to source. Access is also variable, with non-heritage bodies and individuals less likely to be able to access appropriate advice. This creates inconsistency in approaches, resulting in different standards of care across the historic built environment. This has the potential to put some sites at risk, while others are preserved.

Additionally, enforcement action is only available after buildings have fallen into disrepair, risking loss of original fabric, and cultural and historic significance, and increasing financial cost. There are also limited fiscal incentives to encourage good maintenance practice. Instead, poor maintenance is effectively rewarded with VAT reductions and grant funding available for repair and restoration, rather than maintenance. This clearly goes against conservation principles of retaining original fabric as an essential element of the significance and value of sites, which is key in policy and legislation as well as in conservation philosophy on an international scale.

It is clear that reform of policy is required to address these issues. However, further research is required to ascertain the most effective way of achieving consistency and clarity in the implementation of maintenance strategies. The use of maintenance plans has been suggested as a method of achieving this.  This study seeks to explore the appropriateness of implementing mandatory maintenance plans, within the care of the historic built environment.


4.0 Research Design and Method


4.1 Design

The study employed a detailed review of the current literature, along with an exploratory enquiry into the experiences of individuals within the heritage conservation sector. It was determined that, due to the individual nature of heritage buildings, and the evident differences in approach between individuals and organisations (MoH, 2004, p. 1, Hills and Worthing, 2006), collecting detailed data on individual experiences and opinions would be a beneficial contribution to research within this field. It is intended that the findings of this research will guide future, detailed study in this area.

To ensure that ethical concerns were kept to a minimum, participation required fully-informed consent, no personal data will be released without consent of participants, and personal data is be held in line with Data Protection Act 1998 guidelines. Participants are over 18 years of age, and were given the option to withdraw from the study at any time

Once selected, participants were interviewed individually, with time allowed for follow up questions. Interviews were conducted at a location suitable for the participant, at either their home or place of work, or via email.

4.2 Sample

The participants were; a listed building owner; a current Local Authority Conservation Officer; a project manager specialising in listed building projects; and the managing director of a specialist conservation and restoration company. Due to limited time and financial resources available, participants were chosen due to availability, and were professionally known to the author prior to participation in the study. The sample size was necessarily limited due to time constraints in the qualitative data collection method, however, the range of participants was chosen to represent a broad cross section of individuals with experience within the conservation sector.

4.3 Methodology

Qualitative data was gathered via semi-structured interviews, conducted individually with each participant. Three participants were interviewed in person, while one was ‘interviewed’ over email due to difficulties in scheduling. It is acknowledged that the difference in approach may have impacted the data collected, and did not allow for immediate reactive follow up of individual answers. However, the participant provided a high amount of information via email, and follow up did occur to gather further data.

The study employed an inductive approach, as no hypothesis was formulated prior to collection of data. Thomas (2003) states that a ‘general inductive approach’ is preferable in the analysis of qualitative data as it allows the research findings to emerge from the themes found within the raw data, without them being obscured by preconceptions in the data collection and analysis procedure, which can be found in hypothesis testing methods. Additionally, a grounded theory methodology was considered suitable for this research design. In this method the development of theory is ‘grounded in data systematically gathered and analysed’ (Strauss and Corbin, 1994), with sequential data collection and analysis, allowing for the identification of themes, and subsequent development of these, throughout the data collection process. Follow up interviews were not conducted, however, there is scope for doing this at a later date, as development of this study.

It is arguable that the design of this study is that of collaborative enquiry, due to the input of the participants in guiding the focus and findings. Collaborative enquiry, or participatory research, ‘advocates the active involvement of participants in the research process’ (Kumar, 2014, p. 210).  This may be a particularly suitable design for this area of research, which requires increased awareness off, and active participation in, the implementation of maintenance in the appropriate care of historic buildings.

The data was analysed using content analysis, to identify the main themes that emerged. These were then discussed within the context of the research aim and objectives, and supported with verbatim quotations from the participant interviews. Due to the subjective nature of analysis of qualitative data, as well as limited sample size, it was difficult to generalise from the findings. However, as this was an exploratory study, scope for further research was determined from the findings, and is discussed below.

5.0 Findings



  1. Enforcement – resources, identifying owners, changes of ownership

6.0 Conclusions


7.0 Limitations and Future Scope


Other things to be considered – The issue with defining ‘maintenance’ as distinct from ‘repair’ and ‘restoration’. The issue with making this distinction clear to people who may not have ready access to or understanding of the guidance and prescribed information for the care of historic buildings; listed building owners; general maintenance contractors etc.




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Allan. G., 1999.Preventative Maintenance: The Way Forward. Context 63. IHBC

British Standards Institution, 2013. BS 7913:2013. Available at: http://www.ihsti.com/tempimg/3B8DDF5-CIS888614800305525.pdf [Accessed 18th August 2017]

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